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    Sale 2003

    Important American Paintings, Drawings And Sculpture

    21 May 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 68

    Thomas Wilmer Dewing (1851-1938)

    Lady Standing Holding a Cello

    Price Realised  


    Thomas Wilmer Dewing (1851-1938)
    Lady Standing Holding a Cello
    signed and inscribed 'T W Dewing/3' (lower right)
    pastel on paper
    14½ x 11½ in. (36.8 x 29.2 cm.)

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    William Gwinn Mather, Cleveland, Ohio, by 1920.
    By gift to the present owner.

    Pre-Lot Text

    Property of the Elizabeth Ring and William Gwinn Mather Fund, Cleveland, Ohio

    At Gwinn, the spectacular Cleveland, Ohio estate he built on Lake Erie, William G. Mather integrated superb works of American art into a design that united the house, its gardens, and the lake it overlooked to win praise as a work of art in its own right. Mather commissioned Gwinn in 1907, at the height of the American Country Place Era, when wealthy patrons were eagerly building elaborate houses set in grounds landscaped to rival the villas and chateaux they had seen in Europe. He hired the acclaimed architect Charles Platt and prominent landscape architect Warren Manning to create Gwinn, a remarkable and successful collaboration, which was lauded from its inception as outstanding in its harmonious adaptation of classical Italian principles to an American setting.

    Mather came from a distinguished New England family--his ancestors included the Puritan writers and clergymen Richard, Increase, and Cotton Mather--and was also a successful industrialist who took over and expanded his father's mining business. In 1891, he became president of the newly formed Cleveland-Cliffs Iron Company. A committed philanthropist, Mather gave his time and millions of dollars to institutions in Cleveland and beyond: he donated a million-dollar chapel to Trinity College (Connecticut), where he had earned his bachelor's and master's degrees, and helped found the Community Chest, the forerunner of the United Way. As an employer, he took exemplary steps to improve his workers' well-being and living conditions. As well as providing extraordinary benefits and community amenities, he hired the landscape architect Manning--who had landscaped Mather's own summer cottage in Michigan--to supervise the design of new towns, schools, and hospitals for his workers.

    When Mather planned his new Cleveland estate, he consulted with both Manning and the celebrated architect Platt. While Manning, a co-founder of the American Society of Landscape Architects and a former member of Frederick Law Olmsted's firm, believed in the spiritual benefits of informal landscaping that allowed his clients to spend time in nature, Platt specialized in designing houses extended by formal, architectural gardens in the Italian tradition. His role at Gwinn went beyond building the house and laying out the gardens: he traveled to Europe to buy antique furnishings and chose art that contributed to his overall conception of the house. Platt wrote to Mather in 1911, "I feel that I get as much fun as you do out of the process of buying [paintings for the estate]." (Platt to Mather, 11 April 1911, as quoted in R. Karson, The Muses of Gwinn: Art and Nature in a Garden Designed by Warren H. Manning, Charles A. Platt, and Ellen Biddle Shipman, New York, 1995, p. 62)

    The judicious combination of American and European art reflected Platt's application of the principles he had learned from visiting Italian villas to an American landscape and the needs of an American patron. Platt's work was featured in a wide range of contemporary books and magazines as an outstanding example of original American domestic architecture. In 1916, Country Life praised Gwinn as "a many-sided, many-coloured place, varying in its texture, full of an aesthetic magnetism." (Samuel Howe, "Gwinn, Cleveland, U.S.A.," Country Life, May 1916, as quoted in R. Karson, The Muses of Gwinn, p. 5) During World War I, the estate lent its prestigious setting to an amateur film in which a cast of Cleveland socialites satirized their glamorous lifestyle to benefit a European children's relief fund.

    Until 1929, Mather's older half-sister, Katharine, lived with him as hostess at Gwinn. In that year, he married his neighbor Elizabeth Ring, the widow of his late competitor and friend, James Ireland. Together the Mathers maintained Gwinn through the difficult years after the crash of 1929, and Elizabeth joined her husband in his dedication to philanthropic work. Before she died in 1957, six years after her husband, Mrs. Mather arranged with her son and daughter-in-law, James and Cornelia Ireland, to manage the estate as a conference center for non-profit organizations. In this role, Gwinn remained a testament to the Mathers' generosity and their love of nature and art, as well as to the aesthetic judgment of William Mather and Charles Platt, whose collaboration brought the estate into being. For the last century, it has provided an incomparable setting for the collection of art that issued from this partnership of inspired design and sensitive, imaginative patronage.

    Founded in 1954, the Elizabeth Ring and William Gwinn Mather Fund is dedicated to the support of the arts, health care and education. Proceeds from the sale of this property will benefit the fund, and support its charitable efforts.

    Property of the Elizabeth Ring and William Gwinn Mather Fund, Cleveland, Ohio